Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

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circle, longway (line), and quadrille (square) dances, according to the formation used by the dancers. The point is, again, that each of these forms is found all over Europe, and that similar dances are per­formed in areas and countries that have sharply contrasting cultures. Thus, Kurath cites the Maypole as being present in dances in Spain, England, Germany, and Hungary; the "Hey," a technique in which two lines of dancers wind in and out of a circle, is found in England, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Spain. Thus—in spite of national and regional peculiarities—we see again the basic unity of European folk­lore.
Another characteristic type in European folk music is the hu­morous song. Musically this type does not differ especially from other songs, and of course humorous words can be associated with all sorts of song functions—ballads, work songs, children's songs, and so forth. One special type of humorous song found in many coun­tries is the cumulative song. It is not always uproariously funny or even mildly amusing, although some elements of humor are usually found and perhaps even the process of cumulation can be considered as having a humorous effect. A cumulative song is one in which each stanza, while presenting something new, also incorporates elements from the previous stanzas. Among the best known of these songs are "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and, of course, "Alouette."
Instruments and instrumental music
•Musical instruments are important in the European folk music tradition, but it is a fact that singing accounts for the preponderance of music making, formal and informal Still, the instrumental music is of tremendous interest. While we can state with confidence that the participation of the population in singing is quite general, that is, most people in a folk culture can sing some songs and recognize many more, instruments are to a much larger extent the property of specialists. As we have pointed out, truly professional musicians are rarely found in folk cultures. There are not many who really can play an instrument to the satisfaction of a whole village, and only a few persons can make instruments. Moreover, instrumental music is much more commonly used simply as entertainment than are songs.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III